Advent 2021: What Does It Mean To Have ‘God With Us’?

Meg Olson
December 17, 2021

The Fourth Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the “Angel’s Candle” reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All.” For the conclusion of NETWORK’s Advent reflection series, Meg Olson, NETWORK Director of Grassroots Mobilization, reflects on how the Incarnation, which we celebrate with the birth of Jesus at Christmas, has the potential to transform our politics:

This Christmas, Remember What It Means To Have ‘God With Us’

At this time of year, Christians sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” a name that means “God Is With Us.” What does it mean to have God with us in our politics? To find Jesus in our federal policies? The angels heralded the Savior’s birth with “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” but how can one look at the dysfunction of our politics and find good will, let alone feel it?

Many Christian scholars have noted that in the Incarnation, God arrived in the form of vulnerability, a defenseless child who relied on others to meet his every need and defend him from danger. It’s because of the agency, tenacity, and loving devotion of Joseph and Mary that Jesus even survives to see adulthood.

As we are called to recognize Jesus in all people, the Holy Family models for us the devotion that Christians must live out in solidarity with all members of the human family. Jesus was the savior, but God wants all of us to participate by living out love for the most vulnerable in concrete, even transformative ways.

This spirit animated 47 Catholic sisters to travel to Washington, D.C. 50 years ago this week to participate in the founding of the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. They recognized that living out the Gospel required them to work for the common good by advocating for economically and racially just federal policies. We now celebrate the legacy of their witness by seeking to dismantle systemic racism, rooting our economy in solidarity, building an inclusive community, and ultimately, transforming our politics.

Pope Francis has reminded us that the political realm is a place where we can live out one of the highest forms us love. So many decisions affecting the common good and the lives of people pushed to the margins by our systems come to the fore in debates over federal policy. In this fourth week of Advent, as we prepare to welcome Emmanuel into the world, let us deepen our commitment to educate, organize, and lobby for justice with joy!

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